The presence of Jesus has power to destroy and drive out sin! “Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered: let them also that hate him flee before him. As smoke is driven away, so drive them away: as wax melteth before the fire, so let the wicked perish at the presence of God” (Psalm 68:1-2).
This is a picture of what ought to happen when you get alone with God in your prayer closet. His awesome, manifest presence is like a hurricane that blows away the dirt and smoke of lust; like a blazing fire, it melts down all hardness. Wickedness perishes in His presence.
“The hills melted like wax at the presence of the Lord” (Psalm 97:5). The hills in this psalm represent satanic strongholds and mountains of stubbornness, all of which melt from those who are shut in with God. We can pray until we’re exhausted, “Oh God, send Your sin-exposing, sin-destroying power to all our churches!” But it will not do any good until the Spirit raises up in those churches a praying, holy remnant whose pure hearts invite His presence into the sanctuary.
You will not experience the real presence of Jesus until you have within you a growing hatred for sin—a piercing conviction for your failures and a deepening sense of your exceeding sinfulness. Those without Christ’s presence become less and less convicted by sin. The further they withdraw from His presence, the bolder, more arrogant and more comfortable in compromise they grow. Yet it is not enough for us to eat and drink in His presence; we must also be changed and purified by being with Him. “Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets. But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity” (Luke 13:26-27).
Those who confess that they have eaten and drunk in His presence will really be saying, “We were in Your presence; we sat under Your teaching.” Thus they will be judged out of their own mouths. They will admit that they sat in His presence but they were not changed. They remained blind to their own sinfulness, hardened and unaffected by the presence of Christ. Jesus will answer them, “I don’t know you. Depart from Me!”
How dangerous it is to sit among saints of God who radiate His glory and presence, where Jesus powerfully reveals Himself, and not be changed. How deadly not to see the ugliness of sin, the plague of the heart! Will you dare tell the Lord, “I attended a church where Your presence was real; I sat in Your holy presence”? It would be better for you never to have known His presence.